Asanebo | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Asanebo

photo by Amy Scattergood

It looks like a million other sushi restaurants in any other strip mall anywhere in America, but Asanebo might be the place to remind you why you fell in love with sushi in the first place. It has the feel that most sushi joints had 24 years ago (which is when the restaurant opened): no sleek and sexy design, just the comfort of light wood, a small room and a sushi bar. Chef Tetsuya Nakao is the older brother of Shunji Nakao, who owns an eponymous restaurant in Culver City; both of them were part of the opening crew at Matsuhisa in the 1980s. Here, the best bet is to go for the full omakase, where you can expect dishes such as uni on corn custard, halibut topped with copious shaved black truffle, and “Japanese birthday cake”: conch served in its own shell with broth and a quail egg. The sushi and sashimi are pristine — if you’re lucky, you’ll get something truly special, such as a recent wild yellowtail called himi kan buri. And don’t be surprised if you run into a celebrity or two here — Asanebo inspires fierce loyalty in its customers, many of whom just happen to be movie stars.— Besha Rodell